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US House, political leaders react to impeachment

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The U.S. Capitol is seen at the end of the day Wednesday, after the U.S. House voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two charges, abuse of power and obstructing Congress. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Members of New Mexico’s U.S. House delegation and local political leaders reacted to Wednesday’s impeachment vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trump is the third president in American History to be impeached following the vote on two articles of impeachment supported by nearly all House Democrats. Neither of the articles received support from Republicans.

One article of impeachment accuses Trump of abusing the power of his office by withholding $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and conditioning its release on Ukraine conducting an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.

Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing. He and Republicans say the money was withheld due to concerns about corruption within the Ukrainian government and that the money was ultimately released.

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U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, who represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Chaves County, said the vote was a somber occasion.

“Today is a difficult day for our country. It was only after serious consideration that I decided to support impeachment and vote in favor of both articles. This was a necessary response to President Trump’s use of the Executive Office of the president for political and personal gain,” Torres Small said in a statement after the vote.

Torres Small, who won her 2018 race by 3,000 votes, said now that the vote has taken place, it is all the more crucial Congress get back to addressing the issues facing the country and passing pending legislation such as the United States-Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

“The challenges that face our country require bipartisan solutions, and I will continue to work with anyone who wants to deliver for New Mexico,” Torres Small said.

Torres Small was one of the last House Democrats to come out for the impeachment inquiry, which she eventually voted with all but two other Democrats to formalize in November. She announced her intention to vote for both articles Sunday.

Before the vote, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-NM, who is also speaker of the House of Representatives, spoke on the House floor. He said he did not come to Congress to impeach a president, but Trump’s conduct demanded a response.

“The president’s behavior is so blatantly wrong that ignoring his abuses of power would be abdicating the oath we made to protect this country and our Constitution,” Lujan said.

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-NM, said the facts of the case are indisputable.

“We all took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution. We have the solemn responsibility to hold this president accountable, because it’s our job,” Haaland said in a speech on the House floor.

Republicans, however, decried the impeachment process as unfair and meant to politically wound Trump. Steve Pearce, chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico immediately following the vote, issued a press release, labeling the impeachment “shameful, harmful to our nation.”

“The Democrats have been making up the rules and piling on the president from the beginning,” Pearce said. “The bottom line is this: The Democrats know they cannot beat Donald Trump next November, so they’re scrounging up this farce.”

In Chaves County, the chairs of both the Republican and Democratic parties of Chaves County echoed the national debate.

Bob Corn, chair of the Republican Party of Chaves County and a former Chaves County Magistrate Judge, said that based on what he has seen that is public, he does not know any law that has been broken. He described the whole impeachment process as a lot of static that most people he has talked to included Democrats, have tuned out.

“That is kind of the common theme of people I’ve talked to,” he said.

Like the members of the states, all-Democratic congressional delegation, Stephanie Thomas, chair of the Democratic Party of Chaves County, she said that impeachment is no cause for celebration but it was needed.

Thomas said Democrats seizing control of the House in 2018 was the only reason why Trump was held accountable for his actions.

Both Corn and Thomas though agree that the impeachment vote will impact next year’s elections.

Corn said he thinks the impeachment vote has energized Republican voters and will further nationalize races even at the local level.

“I think it is going to be a better 2020 than we have seen in terms of elections in a long time,” Corn said.

Thomas said that Democrats seizing control of the House in 2018 was the only reason Trump was held accountable for his actions, and that will boost the energy among Democratic voters.

“This was all because of the people that showed up to vote, and I hope this will encourage those who were unsure if their voice could make a difference, that every single voice matters,” she said.

Thomas added she believes the impeachment vote will encourage many people who want to see change to step forward.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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